KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College held the official ribbon-cutting Tuesday evening for its new Advanced Technology Center (ATC), which prepares students for competitive, high-skilled technological jobs.

The College also celebrated its award-winning partnership with the City of Kannapolis and Castle & Cooke North Carolina and honored Rowan-Cabarrus Community College President Dr. Carol S. Spalding as the 2019 N.C. Community College President of the Year.

“For more than 10 years, Dr. Carol Spalding has led Rowan-Cabarrus Community College with a vision to build sustainable futures through the power of learning,” said Carl M. Short, Jr., chairman of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees. “She is a courageous leader, and we are lucky to have her.”

The State Board of Community Colleges also awarded the 2019 Distinguished Partner in Excellence Award to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, the City of Kannapolis and Castle & Cooke North Carolina for their unique collaboration in supporting the North Carolina Research Campus and community workplace and economic development.

“This partnership is incredible, and it doesn’t happen everywhere,” said Mark Spitzer, vice president of operations for Castle & Cooke North Carolina.

Picture of ATC at nightLocated at the North Carolina Research Campus, the 55,000-square-foot Advanced Technology Center houses state-of-the-art, adaptable labs and classrooms designed to meet industry growth for the next 50 years. A large flex lab on the ground floor provides space for industry partners to collaborate and innovate.

The building exists thanks to the support of the Cabarrus County voters who passed a bond referendum in 2014 to support the facility, as well as the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners who provided additional support, a federal Economic Development Administration grant and private funding raised through the Rowan-Cabarrus Foundation. The ATC is located adjacent to the College’s biotechnology and nursing facility and was built on nearly three acres of land donated by David H. Murdock, chairman, CEO and president of Castle & Cooke, Inc., and founder of the North Carolina Research Campus.

“It is unusual to see people work together as hard as we do to get things like this done, but it is about passion for this community,” said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. “We all share the same vision. We have a promise to fulfill, to create a stronger and more vibrant community, not just for today, but for my grandchildren and your grandchildren.”

Programs at the ATC will emphasize robotics, engineering and advanced technology, and the building even features a roving robot in the lobby area to welcome visitors, give directions and answer questions.

“This is like nothing the area has seen, and we consider it a game-changer for our region and a sign to our community and companies that Rowan-Cabarrus is committed to helping strengthen the local economy and drive workforce development,” said Craig Lamb, vice president of corporate and continuing education at Rowan-Cabarrus. “The ATC will be instrumental in supporting both our citizens and our businesses by preparing students to work in the high-tech, advanced technology careers of today and tomorrow.”

As the ATC offers training in such areas as mechatronics, computer-aided design, 3D printing, hydraulics and pneumatics, students will work on equipment that companies currently use in the workplace, gaining valuable hands-on experience.

“This building has been a focus of discussion with economic development clients as they visit the community,” said Cabarrus County Deputy County Manager Jonathan Marshall. “It is a sign that the region is committed to developing the workforce to accommodate high-tech, advanced technology careers.”

Programs offered at the ATC will allow students to earn degrees, diplomas, industry-recognized certifications and company-specific process training.

“We are so thankful for the support from the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners, Cabarrus County voters and our partners. We have pulled out all the stops to make sure the Advanced Technology Center will be a flagship in attracting employers to the region and allowing Rowan-Cabarrus to bring a superior level of education to the community,” President Spalding said. “Technology and advanced manufacturing are constantly evolving, and this facility will allow us to ensure that our local workforce remains qualified and current and the region can continue to grow.”